Transition Time Designing Transition Activities That Prepare Students for Adult Life

by Debbie Grosser, M.Ed., and Dale Pennell, C.A.S.

Definition of Transition Services

(a) Transition services means a coordinated set of activities for a child with a disability that-

(1) Is designed to be within a results-oriented process, that is focused on improving the academic and functional achievement of the child with a disability to facilitate the child's movement from school to post-school activities, including postsecondary education, vocational education, integrated employment (including supported employment), continuing and adult education, adult services, independent living, or community participation; (Emphasis added)

IDEA 2004 §300.43(a)(1)

Part 1 of the Definition of Transition Services specifies seven domains for which LEAs must consider students' readiness. O'Leary (2003) defines these domains in the following manner:

1. Postsecondary Education - Coursework at a two- or four-year college in a degree-seeking program

2. Vocational Education - Coursework in a postsecondary vocational school or program that provides entry-level job skills in order to secure employment

3. Integrated Employment (including supported employment) - Employment among people without disabilities, including employment opportunities for which accommodations and additional services, such as job coaching, are necessary

4. Continuing/Adult Education - Classes that enrich personal or professional lives and academic coursework for adults seeking a high school diploma

5. Adult Services - Agencies and organizations that improve quality of life

6. Independent Living - Activities of daily life

7. Community Participation - Activities that relate to mobility, civic responsibility, and volunteerism

Definition of Transition Services

(a) Transition services means a coordinated set of activities for a child with a disability that -

(2) Is based on the individual child's needs, taking into account the child's strengths,

preferences, and interests; and includes -

(I) Instruction;

(II) Related services;

(III) Community experiences;

(IV) The development of employment and other post-school adult living objectives; and

(V) If appropriate, acquisition of daily living skills and provision of a functional vocational evaluation. (Emphasis added)

IDEA 20004 §300.43(a)(2)

Part 2 of the Definition of Transition Services requires that services address identified needs in areas in which the student has professed interest, a preference to pursue, and for which the student has demonstrated strengths or aptitudes. Part 2 goes on to list seven kinds of activities that may be designed to address identified needs. These activities include:

1. Instruction - Activities that provide explicit instruction in knowledge and skills that students must acquire to be ready to pursue their postsecondary goals

2. Related Services - Activities that empower students to access appropriate related services as adults, generally related services they have received during their school years

3. Community Experiences - Educational opportunities provided in the community that prepare students to participate in community life, such as government, social, recreational, leisure, shopping, banking, and transportation activities

4. Employment - Activities that focus on developing work-related behaviors, job-seeking and - keeping skills, career exploration, skill training, apprenticeship training, and actual employment

5. Adult Living - Activities that focus on adult living skills, generally activities that are done once or occasionally

6. Daily Living Skills - Activities that adults do almost every day

7. Functional Vocational Evaluation - An assessment process that provides information about career interests, aptitudes, and skills (O'Leary, 2003)


Transition activities are typically "one-time" or short-term events. Although addressing needs identified in the Present Level of Performance (PLoP), they address needs that do not require annual IEP goals. The next three issues of Link Lines will provide additional information and specific examples of transition activities for each of the seven domains of transition planning.

November/December 2008

Designing Transition Activities That Prepare Students for Postsecondary and Continuing/Adult Education

April/May 2008

Designing Transition Activities That Prepare Students for Independent Living and Community Participation

February/March 2008

Designing Transition Activities That Prepare Students for Postsecondary Training and Employment


O'Leary, E. (2003, June). Virginia Department of Education: Transition outcomes project.
Presentation at the Special Education Directors Council meeting at the Department of Education, Richmond, VA.